Born in 1893, Mrs. Paine, a Chairperson of the Harwich Historical Commission talks about her husband’s ancestors living in Harwich for several generations. She came to the Cape in 1908 with her parents. Her father came to Harwich to be the Superintendent of the Schools for the area that included Harwich, Orleans, Chatham and Eastham. Her father’s name was Loren G. Williams. She remembers going to high school at Brooks Academy and graduating in 1911. It was a one room, one principal and one teacher school. The new high school was built in the 1930s. She recalls what Harwich looked like when she arrived. It had no paved roads and no electricity. She lived on Parallel Street. Dr. Handy owned the first automobile. He lived on Parallel Street. East Harwich road, Rt. 39 was called the shell road. She went to Hyannis Normal School after high school. She became a school teacher in West Dennis and other towns for seven years and then got married. Her husband, John Howard Paine, a native of Harwich was born in 1882 and became a lawyer. His father Josiah Paine, born in 1836, had collected histories and documents of Harwich and his son John Howard Paine published a history of Harwich. The materials for the history, now called the Paine Collection are now housed at the Harwich Historical Society. She recalls the three story Harwich Exchange building.
She recalls tourists coming to Harwich, the use of the Belmont Hotel. She recalls the use of trains and the railroad depot in Harwich. Mrs. Paine remembers what it was like to ride in a car for first time. She describes what Harwich Center looked like before 1920. Her father used a horse and the trains to visit the schools he that he supervised. She describes the locations of one room schools in Harwich Port, East Harwich, Pleasant Lake, and schools on Queen Anne Road and Gorham Rd. She tells of her father in 1906 going down to the wreck of the Onondaga in Orleans and finding shoes, sewing machines and newspaper rolls. She discusses moving houses and tells a funny anecdote about Aunt Polly and Uncle Jim staying in the house while it was moved. She refers to the oldest house in Harwich being moved.
Mrs. Paine describes pictures she had of the Old Horribles, a parade in Harwich that began around 1907. She talks about the painter Charles D. Cahoon, a famous Harwich artist. She talks about Indians of Harwich, the Indian church near Hinkley’s Pond in Pleasant Lake. She also mentions Indian settlements near Arey’s Pond and one near Bells Neck in West Harwich. She tells of Rebecca Crook, the last full blooded Indian in Harwich and a Micah Ralph an Indian chief who died in 1816. Mrs. Paine talks about the Paine Family who has a home on Paine Street just off Great Western Rd. When her husband’s mother was 90 she moved the house to Oak Street. Mrs. Paine recalls learning that not all people who were called captain were actually ship captains.
More information about moving houses and her neighbors on Parallel Street. Dr. Handy was the family doctor. Mrs. Paine recalls having diphtheria as a teenager and living in a quarantined house. She recalls the stores and businesses that were in Harwich Center including John Condon’s Cobbler shop, the soap factory and the printing building for the Harwich Independent. The Independent stopped printing in the 50’s. She talks briefly about prohibition and the depression. Mentions buying a piano in Boston for $400 during the depression.
The Tales of Cape Cod Oral History Collection is housed at the William Brewster Nickerson Archives in the Wilkens Library at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, Massachusetts. For more information about the collection, please contact the Nickerson Archives, http://www.nickersonarchives.org/.